Katerina Gregos is an art historian, curator and writer based in Brussels. She was founding director and curator of the Deste Foundation’s Centre for Contemporary Art in Athens and Artistic Director of Argos Centre for Art and Media in Brussels. Currently she is also artistic director of Art Brussels. On the occasion of "curated by_vienna: Tomorrow Today" she has been invited as curator by Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art Vienna.
The group exhibition you curated in the context of this year's curated by_vienna project is entitled "It’s Money Jim, but not as we know it". Why did you choose this title and what is the exhibition about?
The title of the exhibition is a twist on the verse "It’s life Jim, but not as we know it" in the song released in 1987 by The Firm. It is a parody song of the original TV series "Star Trek". I chose a humorous title to talk about a serious issue that also infers the changes that the monetary system has undergone under capitalism.
The intersection between art and capital, which is the topic of this year’s curated by_vienna, open a lot of possible artistic approaches. How do the artists in your exhibition deal with this topic?
The artists in the exhibition all reflect on the materiality and the immateriality of money, on how money has changed as a medium, as well as on how it functions and circulates in our society today. Some work with money as material to analyse, deconstruct and transform its physical properties, others allude to money in ways that are more abstract and conceptual, while others yet engage in a kind of monetary détournement in order to allude to the extensive entanglements of money and its pervasive influence in so many aspects of society. The works in the exhibition hover between abstraction and representation in the physical as well as in a conceptual sense in order to investigate the nature of money, from accumulation to devaluation, as well as the associated markers of success and failure.
The work "The Pawnshop" by Greek artist Lina Theodorou is also part of the show…
"The Pawnshop" is a work from 2014. It relates to the crisis in Greece and takes the format of a popular entertainment board game with political and financial implications. When the game starts, each player has a pack of cards that correspond to his or her belongings, among which are an apartment, a car, a piece of land, jewellery, et cetera. As the players throw the dice and move on the board, they draw cards that demand of them decisions regarding their financial status and their estate. As time passes they are obliged to sell their belongings at the pawnshop in order to pay off all sorts of debts. Many of the cards offer suggestions to the players to commit illegal acts that will either bring them profit or land them in jail. When a player draws one of these cards, he or she must decide to take or not to take the corresponding risk. The only functioning business is the pawnshop where all transactions take place. The players’ belongings sold at the pawnshop disappear into the underground economy – as the state and banks have lost all credibility. All situations described in the cards are based on facts. The stories are versions of reports that have appeared in the press and stories the artist has encountered since 2010, which reflect the pathology of tax evasion in Greece but also the current system of excessive taxation, which is crippling the middle classes. Fake money here becomes a metaphor for the financial reality in Greece today, but also the political and financial games that are currently being played out in the Greek debt crisis.
Have you worked with some of the artists represented in this exhibition before? If so, in which contexts have you shown their work?
Yes, I’ve worked with several of the artists before. Carlos Aires, Ivan Argote, and Tom Molloy have been part of the exhibition I curated for the 5th Thessaloniki Biennial entitled “Between the Pessimism of the Intellect and the Optimism of the Will”. Danilo Correale was in the exhibition “Liquid Assets: in the Aftermath of the Transformation of Capital” I co-curated with Luigi Fassi for the steirischer herbst in Graz in 2013. Nicolas Kozakis & Raoul Vaneigem were both part of the show “In the Deep of the Modern” in the context of Manifesta 9 in 2012, for which I was on the curatorial team. I showed works by Nicolas Kozakis & Raoul Vaneigem as well in the exhibition “No Country for Young Men: Contemporary Greek Art in Times of Crisis”, which I curated for BOZAR in Brussels last year. Lina Theodorou was also part of that exhibition; Antonio Vega Macotela was also featured in Manifesta 9; and Tom Molloy was in the exhibition “Newtopia: The State of Human Rights, Mechelen and Brussels” in 2012. However, the exhibition in Vienna also provided the opportunity to work with artists, such as Cristina Lucas, Pilvi Takala, and Federico Martinez Montoya and Alain Biltereyst, whose work I knew and was interested in but until now there hadn’t been an appropriate context to present it.
It’s Money Jim, but not as we know it
curated by_ Katerina Gregos
Artists: Carlos Aires, Iván Argote, Alain Biltereyst, Danilo Correale, Jochen Höller, Kozakis & Raoul Vaneigem, Cristina Lucas, Alfadir Luna & Antonio Vega Macotela, Federico Martínez Montoya, Tom Molloy, Pilvi Takala, Lina Theodorou
Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art Vienna, Weihburggasse 26, 1010 Wien
More information www.galerie-mam.com
The exhibition is part of curated by_vienna: Tomorrow Today, for which the philosopher Armen Avanessian has written an essay that questions the relation between art and capitalism. The text served as theoretical basis for all galleries and curators involved in the project.
curated by_vienna is supported by Vienna Business Agency and its creative center departure.